Subject: Stolen / Lost Bike
I’m sure this is all a misunderstanding. I left my bike outside for maybe half an hour. It was noon. I return, and my new bike lock is there fastened around nothing at all. The reality is I’m more impressed. My bike is green. If you happen to have my bike, or saw someone take it, or this is all a misunderstanding, please reach out. Sorry to everyone else for the inconvenience.
Subject: Re: Stolen / Lost Bike
This is very strange. I return from the library, probably a little after midnight. I undress and brush my teeth and everything. I look outside, and right at eye level through the tiny window of my dorm, the bike is suspended among the boughs of this beech tree. It’s just hanging there tied to the tree pretty securely. Slung up there like an ornament. I retrieve it the next day. I have to climb up the tree and saw off the knots of cord binding it up there. Its seat is a little lower, but it’s otherwise undamaged. To the thief, thank you for returning it, I guess. To everyone else, I hope you found this little episode somewhat entertaining now that it’s all resolved.
Subject: Bike Stolen Again
It’s less funny the second time. My bike is gone again. I’m not looking forward to spending more mornings releasing bikes from trees. I’m going to keep this brief. Please return my bike.
I had a dream the other night: I was covered in soil, stumbling down stairs, and that long-bodied fish was praying. When I woke up, I was already late for class, had to walk up that hill.
Subject: Re: Bike Stolen Again
The bike has been returned, and I am grateful. It was discovered submerged in the fountain, immediately outside my Monday morning class. The spokes of its wheels are coated in muck and silt as if risen from a primeval lakebed. The handlebars are hung with elodea. Tell me this won’t happen again.
Subject: Bike Stolen a Third Time
I wasn’t even going to send out a third email, so as not to ordain this act with an attention it doesn’t deserve. However, it feels like I’m not going to get my bike back without this semblance of ritual. If I project this little soliloquy into nothingness, if I say a little prayer under my breath, maybe, my bike will return itself to me, and I will be able to ride it once again to all the places I need to go.
I haven’t been going to class. I haven’t been going out to see my friends. I keep my bike in my room, as if it can persist, remain in my possession only when not moving, not being seen by other people. Is that cruel? Keeping a thing of such perfect mechanics that is capable of such perfect motion withdrawn like this?
Subject: Re: re: Bike Stolen Again
Buried in the earth, planted there: it will bear fruit. I write this not to tell you that I am eating fruit, that it’s sticky, that it’s sweet and lurid. I only want you all to know that I have reclaimed my bike. I have dredged it and cleaned it of the dirt in which it was buried. Poor, pitiful thing. Tell me, did it feel dark down there? Did they use you, and did that change your mechanics? What is left in the dirt? If this was a seed, what are they cultivating?
In the night, I stripped myself of my clothes and walked to the courtyard. Know that this ritual was conducted in a trance but also that I would not have stopped if I could feel my feet beneath me. It was too late in the year for sweat to leave me glistening like that; the sun slid too low beneath the earth. It was too cold. I am sure that if I spoke, if there was someone to speak to, prayer would have sloughed itself from my mouth like tongues. I laid myself to rest in the channeled hole of the Bike, closing as small as I could make myself, smaller. Palpitations beneath my skin told me to make as much contact with the dirt as I could. Cavities in my teeth told me that I wasn’t finished yet.
I awoke late in the morning, like a revenant, with wet soil covering my sheets. My mouth stung with acridity, like I needed to drink orange juice.
Subject: Bike Gone
The Bike is gone again.
Sweet lover, oh my Bike, oh baby please, I swear, please, don’t do this, dear darling girl, please, oh no, I swear, I promise, please, please, just tell me this is the last time, tell me I will eat fruit on some Wednesday in the smoldering future, please, no, no. Pity me, please, oh please, sweet baby boy, I’m telling you that I deserve this, and that this shouldn’t be happening to someone like me.
I want to immolate this place:
pour its white ashes down my throat,
make me an urn—I am ceramic; I am brittle and immutable—
consume it before its python mouth swallows me,
become certain that I have not lost something, that it won’t be returned
in a tree, in the earth.
I am falling apart
A boy runs until he cannot run anymore.
A boy is a persistence hunter.
A boy runs by sycamores and trout lilies, along the river, until some snakehead raises
its antediluvian nose from the water and tells the boy, “your eyes will be open;
you will be as a god; you will know good and evil.”
A snakehead tells falsehoods, and a boy knows not to swim in the river.
History tells us that if it offers an easier way of getting from here to there,
we will all consider the snakehead.
Custom tells us that we should not consider what the boy cries about.
I need an effigy to burn.